Men­tal health unit in line for up­grade


Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal’s ‘‘aus­tere, un­friendly’’ high-needs unit is ex­pected to be re­vamped as part of an up­grade of the men­tal health ward.

The Mid-Cen­tral District Health Board is weigh­ing up its op­tions, which in­clude adding more space or a com­plete re­build of that part of the hospi­tal.

Mid-Cen­tral men­tal health and ad­dic­tions ser­vices di­rec­tor Christo­pher Nolan pre­sented an up­date to the board’s qual­ity and ex­cel­lence ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee re­cently.

The men­tal health ward’s area of about 1400 square metres was in­suf­fi­cient, he said in the re­port.

Op­tions for the up­grade in­clude re­build­ing the high-needs unit, which would add 720sqm to the area.

Or there could be a com­plete re­build, on an area be­tween 2500 and 2700sqm.

The men­tal health ward, ward 21, had been iden­ti­fied in the past as hav­ing sig­nif­i­cant risk for pa­tients who might harm them­selves.

The ward has been at the cen­tre of scru­tiny af­ter a se­ries of sus­pected self-in­flicted deaths.

Other is­sues in­cluded its lay­out and poor vis­i­bil­ity.

The re­port said the high-needs unit was ‘‘aus­tere, un­friendly and not con­sid­ered to be con­ducive to re­cov­ery’’.

Although progress was be­ing made, Nolan said there had been some de­lays.

Com­mit­tee mem­ber Den­nis Emery urged his peers to ‘‘please just get on with it’’.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Kathryn Cook said they were get­ting on with up­grad­ing the unit, which was only 15 years old.

‘‘A new build should have a longer life than 15 years, so we don’t want to find our­selves rush­ing at some­thing and not achiev­ing the out­comes that we need.’’

Gen­eral man­ager of fi­nance and cor­po­rate sup­port Neil Wan­den said there was a slow start, but the pro­ject was now ‘‘well on the way’’.

The up­grade would in­volve ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment’’, and the costs were not yet known.

‘‘We haven’t done de­tailed de­sign here yet – there’s a lot of work to be done.’’

Wan­den said the scale of the op­tions would likely af­fect the pro­ject’s time­frame.

The com­mit­tee would be in­formed of the pro­ject’s de­vel­op­ment at a meet­ing in Septem­ber.

From there, the rec­om­mended op­tion would be de­vel­oped into a de­tailed busi­ness case.


Up­grade op­tions for Palmer­ston North Hospi­tal’s men­tal health ward are be­ing dis­cussed.

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